The term “millennials” is a generational cohort. It is a name given to a generation of people who were born between 1981 and 1996. Although they are also known as “Generation Y” or “Gen Y,” it is the name “millennials” that has been most used by many. One may ask, why that name? Quite simply, the name was born out of the fact they were born or became adults during the turn of the millennium.
What is the age range of Millennials?
Generational cohorts are grouped not by their current life stage, but by the year they were born. The age range is selected for statistical analysis of specific trends. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. This means that, in 2021, the oldest millennials are 40 years and the youngest are 25 years old.
How do Millennials compare with older generations?
Just like other generations, millennials have been observed in terms of their characteristics and behaviors. Consequently, these observations yielded positive and negative aspects. It is important to remember that this information must be taken with a grain of salt. Not to be generalized and stereotyped, the observations are meant to be seen within historic, social, and economic trends as the backdrop.
Millennials were born during a time when society was already shifting to the rise of new technology. They grew up with personal computers and the internet already booming. For these millennials, technology and everyday life were already intertwined. This is a stark difference from when the older generations were born. The baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, and Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, grew up without these technological advances. As a result, it is common thinking that millennials are much more attuned and comfortable with technology than older ones from previous generations.
One of the trends that have been observed is that millennials were much better educated compared with their parents and grandparents. There was a steady rise in young adults obtaining a college degree or even high education. A key observation was the rise in educational attainment for young women. Research conducted by Pew Research Center showed that among the women of the Silent Generation, only 11% acquired a bachelor’s degree. Young women from the millennial generation were four times more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
In terms of their economic situation, the millennial generation was affected by the Great Recession that happened in 2008. Because a lot of millennials were at the onset of their careers during that time, the timing of the recession, shortage of available jobs, and low wages impacted their economic stability and earning potential. Millennials experienced low earning potential at the beginning of their careers. To add to that, they also had loans to pay because of high college tuition. All of these put millennials at an economic disadvantage with little to no opportunity to save and invest for their future.
The financial situation of millennials affected their spending patterns and habits. Millennials were observed to spend less on casual dining options and diamonds, and other goods because of less disposable income. However, when they can spend, millennials tend to prioritize different things as well. Compared with baby boomers and Generation X, millennials viewed traveling the world and gaining experiences as more important than buying a new house.
Additionally, millennials were seen to delay marriage and starting a family compared with previous generations. While their reasons for delay starting a family may be personal, millennials may be delaying these life events because of their reduced economic opportunities.
How are Millennials in the work environment?
Businesses operate best if employers know how to engage with employees from varying age groups. While this may be a challenging endeavor, it is worth doing. Millennials are generally vocal about their opinion and insights. In the workplace, they are more likely to voice any dissatisfaction compared with previous generations. Because of this, millennials have also been, unfortunately, labeled as job-hoppers who are easily dissatisfied. Again, this is not to impose stereotypes but to look at different elements in a larger context.
In response to dissatisfaction, what employers can do is improve employee engagement. In a report by Gallup, what millennials value in a job is not just the paycheck, but the purpose and professional development. Compared to previous generations, millennials faced smaller wages in part due to the Great Recession. For millennials, liking their jobs is an initial step. They are looking for a sense of purpose, growth opportunities, and managers who will serve as their mentors.
Millennials also look for frequent feedback from managers. They want to be informed about their work performance, work effectiveness, what they are doing well, and what they need to improve on.
How can employers respond to Millennials?
Every employer wants engaged employees. With engagement comes action, satisfaction, and retention. Business leaders, managers, and HR teams are responsible for implementing strategies that connect with their people.
With the above mentioned concerns, employers can increase engagement with millennials by addressing their need to work for a purpose, find professional growth, and being informed. Leaders can take steps in making sure that millennials are aware of the company’s vision and mission. They must be informed of how their work, no matter what it is, contributes to the achievement of bigger goals. If the company is involved in community work and corporate social responsibility projects, why not encourage millennials to participate or even lead some projects? In this way, they can contribute to something outside of their everyday work routine.
Furthermore, annual performance reviews may not keep millennials as engaged as they could be. Managers can make more frequent one-on-one meetings and catch-ups to better help employees keep track of their progress, address their needs, and remain up to date with work goals.
Finally, promoting the work-life balance of employees is also beneficial. This will be helpful not just for millennials but for all employees in general. Giving value to work-life balance and making it a part of the company’s brand is something that employees will appreciate.
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